Thank God You’re Back

Have You Been Paying Attention? is the gift that keeps on giving to Australian comedy (on television at least). It’s funny, it’s regular, it’s popular; what more could you ask for?

If you were a real crank it might be possible to suggest that the show’s in a bit of a rut, but being in a rut is exactly what this kind of show strives for. The whole point is that a): you know what you’re getting and b): what you’re getting is going to be good. So long as you’re getting b) right, a) doesn’t really matter. Anyway, it’s a topical news quiz: the questions and subjects (and occasionally, the guests) are what provides the variety here.

The real question here is: where’s the spin-offs? If anything – and in stark contrast to pretty much every other Australian panel show in living memory – this feels a little overpowered at times. Working Dog have always had a decent eye for talent and they’re currently stocking HYBPA? with winners young and old each week; why isn’t Channel Ten trying to do something with them? Is the blackmail material Peter Helliar has on the management at Ten just that good?

With Utopia seemingly consigned to the dustbin of history, Working Dog’s schedule is (presumably) free to work on new projects – and unlike the ABC, Ten has a few dollars they found down the back of the couch. Ten’s only other stab at light entertainment of late has been the, uh, somewhat unimpressive Hughesy We Have a Problem, and if that never returned there wouldn’t be too many tears shed.

We have no idea how television is run so for all we know there’s a non-aggression pact between Ten’s major comedy producers preventing any one of them from having two big shows airing in the same year. It could happen! We don’t know! What we do know is that it seems a bit odd that the producers of easily Ten’s best light entertainment show of the past decade aren’t expanding their empire just a little.

We’re not calling for the return of A River Somewhere or anything, but if All Aussie Adventures can make a comeback, they’ve got to have a few classics (bring back Audrey’s Kitchen) – or better, some new ideas – with a bit of fuel in the tank.

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